This motto is incised below a ghastly mural by John Singer Sargent on the mezzanine of Harvard's Widener Library. It is intended as a tribute to those fought and died for the U.S. in World War I.

It's perfectly ghastly, yet I can't help respecting this mural in a perverse way. It makes no attempt to evade the realization that serving in the military is about fighting and dying. Death and Victory are depicted as a Pretty Good Thing, and no euphemisms are employed in describing them.

See also the Battle Hymn of The Republic: "As (Christ) died to make men holy, let us die to make them free." The latter-day version says, "let us fight to make them free" or "let us live to make them free," but the original was more forthright.